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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

by government economic favors, is still relatively high. In order to be effective, economic pressures would probably seriously affect the welfare of the children who were born in spite of the pressures. It seems to me that the same arguments apply to the use of economic pressures to lower the birth rate as are used to argue against the issue of suppressing illegitimacy by cutting off aid to dependent children. If children become a financial burden, there will be fewer of them, but those that are born will be punished by being deprived of precisely those economic advantages they should have, both for humanitarian reasons and for their growth and development into worthwhile citizens. The same objection applies to the use of financial rewards to induce people not to have children because such programs would make the families with children the poorer families. A further objection to the use of economic pressures or rewards is that, since they would be primarily effective against certain economic groups, such methods are discriminatory.
Among the variety of specific proposals to use positive incentives is one that advocates the provision of pensions for poor parents with fewer than N children as social security for their old age (20-22). This particular policy recommendation is perhaps the least unjust of all the proposals involving incentives, especially in less developed countries where pensions are largely unavailable at present and parents depend upon their children for social security.
If social security were provided for those parents who had no more than some specified number of children, this provision would not severely, or directly, affect the lives of children in economic conditions where it is not normally possible to save money. Similarly, it would not discriminate much against parents who exceeded the specified number of children for they would, as has been the custom, look to their children for social security.
It is true that the whole society would bear the cost of this pension plan, but such a cost could be seen as enhancing the general welfare of the society, and, therefore, as a mutually advantageous burden to bear, even though it would discriminate somewhat against the grown children of large families if they were required to support their parents and contribute to the cost of the pension plan as well.
In any estimate of the benefit/harm ratio that would obtain should some policy of positive or negative incentives be initiated, it is important to consider the way in which these benefits and harms are distributed, and to take care particularly not to discriminate against the poor. Generally, the chances that the children of the poor will get a good education, that they will survive to adulthood, and that they will have a good and productive life and thus realize the hopes for the future that the parents have invested in them are not nearly as good as for the children of people at higher incomes. Having only two or three children may, from the vantage point of the poor, lookers. To decide the Tightness or wrongness of particular actions or policies will usually involve